We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Intestinal Metaplasia?

By Maggie J. Hall
Updated Feb 26, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Intestinal metaplasia generally involves the development of intestine like cells in locations where this type of cell is not normally found. The condition is usually attributed to chronic inflammation caused by bacteria, the person, or environmental factors. The differentiated cell type frequently develops in the stomach and esophageal regions but may occur anywhere in the body. Treatment may involve eliminating causative factors.

The condition generally occurs when a constant regenerative process turns normal squamous cells into columnar mucosa cells. The cell membranes and nuclei are usually distorted and have vacuoles that contain acidic mucin. As the name implies, the transformed cells resemble those found in the intestines. These abnormal cells fuse and may spread throughout the affected area. Though generally considered a benign change, the condition is often equated with pre-malignancy.

Focal intestinal metaplasia is one of two classifications of the condition and has two variations. This focal form usually occurs in response to chronic mucosal injury or irritation and is further classified as being complete or incomplete. Complete focal forms of the condition generally produce cells that resemble those commonly found in the small bowel. The cells undergo a maturation process that enables them to appear and function as bowel cells. They may secrete peptides and absorb nutrients.

The other variation of focal metaplasia is commonly referred to as incomplete intestinal metaplasia. In this form, the transformed cells are similar to the microscopic structures found in the large intestine. The affected organ generally contains goblet cells and rudimentary villi, often associated with the colon.

Mucus gland intestinal metaplasia usually develops secondary to ulcerative conditions. It is the second major classification of this condition. Erosion of gastric glands may eventually give way to the development of mucous glands.

Physicians may discover intestinal metaplasia during an endoscopic evaluation. Early stages of the condition often appear as white plaques or patches. The abnormal cells might also appear as discolored regions. Definitive diagnosis usually involves biopsy and microscopic examination. Under certain circumstances the condition may be reversible.

Pathological stress caused by Helicobacter pylori frequently induces inflammation and tissue ulceration, which may lead to intestinal metaplasia. Antibiotic treatment regimens can usually eliminate the bacteria and subsequent irritation. Physiological stress factors that contribute to gastric irritation include diets deficient in vitamin C, alcohol consumption, and smoking. Chronic use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications may also create the condition.

Certain autoimmune diseases attack the parietal and chief cells of the stomach, creating chronic inflammation and injury. In many instances, reversing controllable factors allows tissues the opportunity to heal normally. Individuals having extensive or severe cases may undergo ablation or surgical removal of damaged tissue.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Handycell — On Feb 14, 2014

My doctor wants to do an endoscopy to rule out intestinal metaplasia, and the whole procedure has me a little on edge. I was wondering if there are other options for diagnosis? I keep hearing about capsule endoscopies, where you can swallow a capsule that has a camera inside. I’m wondering if that could be a good option for me. Just the idea of having an endoscopy is making me too nervous that I’m almost about to cancel my appointment. If capsule endoscopies are not an option, are there any alternatives?

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.